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I'm looking for a virtual desktop manager for Windows 7 that reproduces the functionality of the built-in manager in Linux. Specifically, I want the ability to display the desktops as a 2x2 square and switch between desktops based on location (ie, "go right," "go down," etc.; not just "go to desktop 1," etc.); it would also be nice to be able to, like in Linux, move windows like this (ie, "move this window right," "move this window down," etc.), though this is less important.

I know the general "Virtual Desktop Manager for Windows 7???" question has been asked several times before, but this is a more specific question: I want to know which programs can orient the windows as a square and allow you to switch windows based on location.

I could install every program out there, but I'd prefer to not install and uninstall 10 programs just to see which one has this specific feature. I imagine I'm not the only one out there for whom these are the critical features (who doesn't want their workflow on Windows to be completely different from their workflow on Linux) that determine their choice.

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VirtuaWin is an Open Source app that does all of that. You can setup your grid however large you want it and configure the proper move "left/right/up/down" hotkeys accordingly. You can set "sticky windows" (so that iTunes always shows up regardless of what desktop you are on) and a lot more.

I converted from Dexpot about 6 months back or so and have been very happy with the switch

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I used to use VirtuaWin, but I eventually gave up on it because I didn't like how it handled rendering switching (windows on the old desktop fade away, then windows on the new desktop fade on, but there's no visual sense of "going right" or "going down"), and there's no visual feedback of moving between desktops unless the windows differ. – rubergly May 6 '11 at 14:17
Interesting. How long ago was that? I haven't seen any of that behavior since I started using it. I simply hit WIN+ALT+2 and the window just disappears and show up on virtual desktop 2 for me. I wasn't too worried about visual cues or anything, since the icon in the system tray gives you a quick list of what is on each desktop. Dexpot might have the features you need. I was getting weird ghosting issues on occasion, which is why I switched, but I think I was in a fringe case. It is a solid app. – Dillie-O May 6 '11 at 14:23
Oh yeah, it's definitely a solid app. And what I'm complaining about isn't a bug or anything; I think it might just be necessary given how Virtual Desktop Managers work on Windows, by simulating switching desktops by maintaining a list of windows for each desktop and showing/hiding windows based on which desktop you're switching to. But it'd be nice to know if other apps somehow handle that rendering better. With the desktop tray icon, I get most of the visual feedback I want if I remember to look in the corner of the screen, but I like how Ubuntu shoves that visual feedback in my face. – rubergly May 6 '11 at 14:32

I know that Virtual Dimension allows for this exact functionality.

Virtual Dimension allows for selecting any amount of virtual desktops, split over any amount of columns

I can't, however, attest for the stability of the application, since I've only been using it for a short time. So far it seems pretty stable. Noteworthy comparisons to X11/Linux experience expectations:

  • Row/Column Configuration
  • Keyboard shortcut for UP, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT (including 'Move Window' alternative shortcuts)
  • Semi-Transparent OSD upon desktop transition
  • Shell integration (Menu items upon Shift+RMB on taskbar items, or right click on window titles)
  • GNU GPL Licensed

Personal Note: I, too, have been searching far and wide to replicate this same experience when switching from my Ubuntu to my Windows desktop. It's a problem I've had for a while now. It seems finally this may be the answer to that problem.

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